The UN Ambassador recently slammed the insinuation of an affair with her boss, President Trump
No foreign affairs to see here.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley came out swinging recently against the insinuation of an affair with her boss, President Trump. The notion is “highly offensive,” “disgusting” and “absolutely not true,” she said after “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff set the rumor mill in motion during a “Real Time with Bill Maher” appearance.
“I have literally been on Air Force One once and there were several people in the room when I was there,” Haley said on Politico’s Women Rule podcast. “He says that I’ve been talking a lot with the president in the Oval about my political future. I’ve never talked once to the president about my future and I am never alone with him.”
Haley isn’t the first successful woman to fend off charges of sleeping her way to the top, nor will she be the last. Here’s what to do if you find yourself the subject of salacious rumors — true, false or otherwise — at your place of work:
Wait a beat. Try to “rise above” the instinct to hit back immediately and/or negatively against an allegation, leadership expert Todd Dewett told Moneyish. “When you first become aware that this is floating around the office, you do not react quickly,” he said. “Some would say sleep on it for 48 hours while you process it … (and) more rationally decide how to engage.”
Don’t retreat. “Most people, if they’re the subject of a rumor, feel somehow threatened or embarrassed,” Dewett said. But withdrawal “can make you look guilty, (when) what you want to look is normal if not outright confident. Keep your face out there; don’t skip meetings; don’t cancel lunches … Stay out there.”
Tap into your network. Get a sense of “the aura around you” regarding how coworkers are treating you, suggested executive coach Julie Jansen. “Find some people inside the organization who really know what’s going on — those people that always kind of have their radar up about what’s happening,” she told Moneyish. Pull aside the people you trust and ask what they’ve heard others saying. And mobilize your allies: If you’re close with colleagues who are “your champions,” Jansen said, see if they’re willing to advocate to others on your behalf. “You kind of want them to be a discreet mouthpiece for you and defend you,” she said.
Address the source directly. Confronting the originator of the gossip can help humanize you and reduce the likelihood this person will keep spreading it, Dewett said. Prepare with a note or two, pull them aside privately, keep your emotions in check and directly deny the allegations. “If there is a kernel of truth, cop to it,” he added, because “that will make you credible.” State how you feel and be clear about your expectations going forward, Dewett said: “You have no intention outside of this meeting right now to speak in a derogatory fashion about them, and you ask for the same.”
Remember you’re not trying to make this person feel terrible, Jansen said: “I’ve gossiped about things and then later realized, ‘Oh my gosh — that could really have hurt someone’s feelings,’” she said. “We’ve all done it; we’re human, so I don’t think that’s a way to operate even if the person’s really hurt you.”
If confronting your peer fails, Dewett said, consider approaching your manager. “It might be the case that they have a voice that could be more effective than yours in stemming the conversation in that office,” he said. If you have no other recourse — and you foresee major professional ramifications — HR may be the answer. The downside: “Even when it’s justified, you’re now the person who went to HR as a tattletale,” Dewett said. “In some managers’ minds, that’s not always a good thing.”
Try to maintain perspective. Gossip exists on a spectrum, Jansen pointed out, potentially ranging from “she eats 15 doughnuts a day” to “she stole something” to “she slept with the boss.” “I think if it’s big enough, you have to defend yourself,” Dewett said. “I think if it’s small to medium … and this doesn’t predictably look like something that could harm your career,” then feel free not to dignify rumors by responding.
“Have perspective about what it is that people are gossiping about and how seriously you’re going to take it,” Jansen said, and give greater primacy to allegations that could damage your reputation down the line.
Going forward, Dewett said, realize you may be under scrutiny — so make sure your behaviors don’t reinforce or confirm whatever the allegations were, and be careful with whom you associate. Exceed expectations at your job, he added: “No matter what scar you’ve taken on or how it happened, one of the best medicines, period, is to work your tail off and be exemplary in terms of work performance.”
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